Yoga — a mind-body practice — is considered one of many types of complementary and integrative health approaches. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind. This can help you relax and manage stress and anxiety.
Yoga has many styles, forms and intensities. Hatha yoga, in particular, may be a good choice for stress management. Hatha is one of the most common styles of yoga, and beginners may like its slower pace and easier movements. But most people can benefit from any style of yoga — it’s all about your personal preferences.
The core components of hatha yoga and most general yoga classes are:
Poses. Yoga poses, also called postures, are a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility. Poses range from lying on the floor while completely relaxed to difficult postures that may have you stretching your physical limits.
Breathing. Controlling your breathing is an important part of yoga. Yoga teaches that controlling your breathing can help you control your body and quiet your mind.
Meditation or relaxation. In yoga, you may incorporate meditation or relaxation. Meditation may help you learn to be more mindful and aware of the present moment without judgment.
Potential health benefits of yoga
The potential health benefits of yoga include:
- Stress reduction. A number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.
- Improved fitness. Practicing yoga may lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength.
- Management of chronic conditions. Yoga can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.
Yoga is generally considered safe for most healthy people when practiced under the guidance of a trained instructor. But there are some situations in which yoga might pose a risk.
See your health care provider before you begin yoga if you have any of the following conditions or situations:
- A herniated disk
- A risk of blood clots
- Eye conditions, including glaucoma
- Pregnancy — although yoga is generally safe for pregnant women, certain poses should be avoided
- Severe balance problems
- Severe osteoporosis
- Uncontrolled blood pressure
You may be able to practice yoga in these situations if you take certain precautions, such as avoiding certain poses or stretches. If you develop symptoms, such as pain, or have concerns, see your doctor to make sure you’re getting benefit and not harm from yoga.